Books on the Rice: 2018-2019 Asian-inspired fantasy novels to drool over

As all of you should know by now, I was born and raised (and still currently live) in the Philippines, which is located in the heart of Southeast Asia. So it comes as no surprise that ya girl is extremely fascinated by stories set in Asia, stories written by Asian authors, and more recently, fantasies inspired by Asian culture, folklore, and mythology.

The fantasy genre occupies a sizable space in my little reader heart. Fantasies stretch the imagination of readers, effectively offer escapism, and commonly tackle important ideas in remarkably creative ways, such as re-imagined political systems, war, traditions, and even moments in history. In other words: the fantasy genre is awesome, don’t @ me.

Growing up, my favorite was The Iron Fey series, which was written by Julie Kagawa, an American author of Japanese descent. However, the story behind the books themselves was not actually influenced by her Asian heritage. While I still love The Iron Fey books (and will eternally have a soft spot for Puck), I can’t help but think about how amazingly different my childhood would have been if little kid Shealea had her hands on books with dimensional characters she could really identify with or stories set in places she was acutely familiar with.

I mean, imagine having a bunch of rice-fueled heroes and heroines to look up to at an early age! (Of course, I am partly kidding. There’s more to being Asian than just eating a lot of rice, although I do love rice to a fault. Rice is amazing, y’all!)

Thankfully, in this day and age, there are significantly more diverse stories that readers can go heart-eyes emoji (😍) for. The world could use even more diversity, in my opinion, but it’s a great start for sure! In line with this, there has been an upward trend in books with Asian representation, including Asian-inspired fantastical stories. (Do you hear that? That’s the embarrassing sound of little kid Shealea weeping from unadulterated joy.)

Which brings us to the whole point of this post (Wow, that was a really, really lengthy introduction, huh?). Funnily enough, the idea behind this post was inspired by Roshani Chokshi’s upcoming 2019 YA fantasy release, The Glided Wolves. It’s funny because The Glided Wolves, as far as I know, is not an Asian-inspired fantasy; rather, its story is set in Paris, 1889. Therefore, this historical fantasy title is technically ineligible to be added into this list. Oops. But on a more positive note, The Glided Wolves features a half-Filipino character(!!!) – an extremely (and frustratingly) rare occurrence in YA fantasy, can I just say? – so you best add this book to your Goodreads shelf!

But I digress.

Encountering a YA fantasy with a Filipino character (seriously, go and check out The Glided Wolves!) has ignited a latent desire in me that I didn’t even know was there: a hunger for representation in my all-time favorite genre. My emergent interest in Asian-inspired fantasy books has led to many a recent searching, and I eventually realized that I might as well share my glorious findings to the world! I am pleased to say that this post will be a pretty lengthy one because I was able to compile more than 25 37 titles!

Here are a number of Asian-inspired fantasy novels released (or to be released) in 2018 and 2019!

Asian fantasies already released!

1. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Based on historical events, particularly in China, The Poppy War follows the life of a dark-skinned war orphan as she struggles out of a horrid marriage of convenience and into a horrid destiny of war, politics, unspeakably horrific violence, and gods. This 2018 debut is an adult military fantasy that offers heavy portrayals of dark themes. Consequently, The Poppy War comes with numerous trigger/content warnings including, but not limited to, genocide, self-harm, suicide, racism and colorism, ableism, graphic violence (e.g. decapitation, mutilation, dismemberment, torture), rape, and drug use/addiction.

After reading Kate’s eloquently written review, I am excited to get started on my review copy of The Poppy War! Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 01 May 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

2. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
The Heart Forger immediately picks up from where its predecessor, The Bone Witch (read my review), left off. The protagonist of this spellbinding, fantastical YA trilogy is young Tea, who discovers her powers in necromancy after accidentally raising her brother from the dead. The story heavily draws from Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. In fact, the setting is influenced by the Ayubbid dynasty. Additionally, the traditions of the asha are reflective of the Japanese geisha culture while the concept of ‘bone witches’ is loosely inspired by Filipino folklore, that is, the mangkukulam. Learn more via Goodreads.

As evidenced in my 5-star review, The Heart Forger is so incredibly rich in culture, world-building, and writing that Rin Chupeco’s series easily became my favorite Asian-inspired fantasy!

[ Date of publication: 20 March 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

3. The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
Set in the Mongol Empire, this YA historical fantasy follows Jinghua, a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, who becomes an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his father. While on the run, she attempts to hatch a scheme that will allow her to return home. Learn more via Goodreads.

The Bird and the Blade is Megan Bannen’s debut novel, which serves as a retelling of Giacomo Puccini’s opera entitled Turandot. (Honestly, I was a wee bit wary about including a white author’s work on this list. However, I haven’t encountered any criticism regarding its Chinese representation. Plus, Vicky’s stellar review quickly got me excited about picking this title up!)

[ Date of publication: 05 June 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

4. Reflection by Elizabeth Lim
What if Mulan had to travel the Underworld in order to save Captain Shang from certain death? If that one-sentence premise isn’t enough to pique your interest in this YA fantasy retelling of the girl who saved China, then I don’t know what will. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 27 March 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

5. Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
With noticeable hints of Persian influences, Reign the Earth is a YA elemental fantasy set in the desert. Shalia, the story’s protagonist, chooses to trade her freedom in order to ensure her family’s safety and becomes the Queen of the Bonelands. Learn more via Goodreads.

(Much like my concern with The Bird and the Blade, this novel was written by another white author. Another concern is the trigger/content warnings of marital rape, physical and emotional abuse, torture, and sensitive childbirth/pregnancy content. Hence, I suggest reading Reign the Earth with caution.)

[ Date of publication: 30 January 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

6. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

Inspired by Chinese folklore, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is a YA urban fantasy that tells the story of – yep, you guessed right – Genie Lo, an Ivy-hopeful overachiever who is suddenly tasked with the responsibility of battling hellspawn and demons. Learn more via Goodreads.

(This was actually published in 2017, but despite that, I included The Epic Crush of Genie Lo on this list because its sequel is well under way! The release date of its second book, The Iron Will of Genie Lo, has yet to be announced.)

[ Date of publication: 08 August 2017 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

7. The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
In The Serpent’s Secret, 12-year-old Kiranmala discovers that she’s an actual Indian princess after her parents go missing. Suddenly, Kiran is thrust into a magical dimension where she must solve riddles and defeat demons (while avoiding the powerful entities that may or may not want her dead) in order to find her parents and to save the world. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 27 February 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

8. Aruh Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Teeming with Indian mythology, this middle grade novel tells the story of 12-year-old Aruh Shah. While spending her autumn break in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, Aru accidentally frees an ancient demon, and subsequently, gets her mother and classmates frozen in time. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 27 March 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

9. Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn
Heroine’s Journey is the final installment of Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex comic series. This YA urban fantasy is set in modern San Francisco and follows the action-packed adventures of three Asian-American teenage superheroes! Does that not count as an Asian-inspired fantasy in the strictest sense? Oops. Nevertheless, learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 03 July 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

10. The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar’s lyrical debut is a historical fiction with fantastical and mythical elements. The Map of Salt and Stars tells the story of two girls living eight hundred years apart: Nour (a modern-day Syrian refugee in search of safety) and Rawiya (a medieval adventurer on an epic journey where she encounters ferocious mythical beasts and real historical figures). Inspired by Arabian folklore and immersed in Middle Eastern and North African cultures, The Map of Salt and Stars combines both worlds of the real and the imagined. Learn more via Goodreads.

(Take note of some trigger/content warnings: violence, sexual assault, and attempted rape.)

[ Date of publication: 01 May 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

11. Markswoman by Rati Mehrota
In a post-apocalyptic, Indian-inspired world, the Order of Kali is a sisterhood of elite warriors. Among their ranks is the story’s protagonist, Kyra, who happens to be their youngest Markswoman. In a whirlwind of events, Kyra is forced on the run and is desperate to prove that the Order’s newest leader committed murder in a twisted bid for more power. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 23 January 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

12. Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
Danny Hart is a prodigy mechanic who can not only repair clockwork but also time itself. While Timekeeper was set in an alternate Victorian England, its sequel brings the story’s magical steampunk world-building to India, where clock towers have begun falling. With wonderful LGBTQ+ romance, hints of mystery, and cool sci-fi elements, Chainbreaker is a YA fantasy you certainly need to look into. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 02 January 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

13. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors re-imagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate. Authors included in this anthology are as follows: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 26 June 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

14. The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi (and translated by Cathy Hirano)
Heavily drawing from Japanese culture, The Beast Player tells the story of Elin, whose family is deemed responsible for caretaking the Toda, fearsome water serpents that are used as tools in war. Soon, Elin discovers that she can talk to both the Toda and Royal Beasts. This not only gives her great power but also gets her involved in dangerous political games she wants no part of. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 01 March 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

15. Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh
Smoke in the Sun is the highly anticipated sequel of Flame in the Mist. The series is commonly compared to the story of Mulan but set in feudal Japan. Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko, the only daughter of a prominent samurai, aims to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those who want her dead. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Date of publication: 05 June 2018 | Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository ]

Asian fantasy releases in the 2nd half of 2018!

16. Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
In each generation, a competition is held to determine the succeeding empress of Honoku. All are eligible to compete – all except the yōkai, that is, supernatural spirit monsters whom the human emperor is determined to destroy. Mari has spent a lifetime of training in order to win and become empress, but no amount of training can ease the struggle of hiding her true identity of being a yōkai. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 06 November 2018 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository ]

17. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for. And also the most cruel. But this year, there’s a ninth girl, and instead of paper, she’s made of fire. Learn more via Goodreads.

I’ve been incredibly lucky enough to have received a physical ARC of Girls of Paper and Fire. I mean, an #OwnVoices YA fantasy about an Asian caste system, demon kings, and a forbidden LGBTQ+ romance? Sign me the hell up! I’m so excited to read this.

(This novel comes with the following trigger/content warnings: violence and sexual abuse.)

[ Expected release date: 06 November 2018 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository ]

18. Wildcard by Marie Lu
Wildcard is the highly anticipated sequel of Warcross (read my review), a thrilling, terrifyingly plausible YA fantasy about an alternate virtual reality. In this story, Warcross isn’t just a game; it’s a way of life. After receiving an irresistible offer from the elusive Warcross creator, Emika Chen, a hacking genius and bounty hounter, is soon whisked off to vibrant Tokyo and thrust into a world that she’s only dreamed of. Learn more via Goodreads.

(Quick side comment: In line with its September release, Rafael will be organizing a PH blog tour for Warcross, and I’ll be participating! Yay! Keep your eyes open for my review.)

[ Expected release date: 18 September 2018 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository ]

19. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
In this Japanese-inspired YA fantasy, it is said that whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish. As the time nears, the holder of the first piece of the scroll is a peasant girl named Yumeko who is harboring a dangerous secret: she was trained by a master to both use and hide her kitsune shapeshifting powers. Learn more via Goodreads.

Let me just: as I mentioned earlier in this post, Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series remains to be one of my all-time favorite fantasies. Anyway. It finally happened! Julie has written a story about Japan! An honest to goodness fantasy story set in Japan! I’M SCREAMING.

[ Expected release date: 02 October 2018 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository ]

20. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she is coerced into their service, as they are determined to harness her magic for the glory of the Empire. Empire of Sand is an adult fantasy inspired by the Mughal era of India. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 13 November 2018 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository ]

21. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
In the epic fantasy conclusion following Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. This fairytale retelling is set in an East Asian-inspired mystical world. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 06 November 2018 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository ]

22. For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood.

For a Muse of Fire is set in a vivid, rich world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism. It is also worth noting that the protagonist is a bipolar heroine. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 25 September 2018 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository ]

23. Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani
Set in modern-day Japan, Kira, a victim of bullying, finds solace working in her grandfather’s Shinto shrine. After realizing that she can see and commune with demons, Kira partners with seven Shinigami (in other words, death gods) to save Kyoto from destruction. Add this title on Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 25 September 2018 | Pre-order: Book Depository ]

24. The Relic of the Blue Dragon by Rebecca Lim
When Harley Spark accidentally releases Qing, one of five dragon sisters, from the ancient Chinese vase she’s been trapped in for centuries, he is soon on a dangerous international mission with Qing to find and free her four sisters. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 25 July 2018 | Pre-order: Book Depository ]

Asian fantasy releases in 2019!

25. The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco
In the highly anticipated finale to the Bone Witch trilogy, Tea’s life – and the fate of the kingdoms – hangs in the balance. Learn more via Goodreads.

(Don’t forget to read The Bone Witch and The Heart Forger first! Rin Chupeco is my newest favorite author, so if you have any faith in my taste in books, go and buy The Bone Witch [Amazon or Book Depository — at 15% off!!!] and The Heart Forger [Amazon or Book Depository] right this instant!)

[ Expected release date: 01 March 2019 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository ]

26. The Girl King by Mimi Yu
All hail the Girl King! Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female rule, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. However, their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends both sisters down different paths. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 08 January 2019 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository — at 10% off!!! ]

27. The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. Soon, her path crosses with a soldier named Kunal – and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. The Tiger at Midnight draws inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 23 April 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

28. We Hunt the Flame by Hafash Faizal
Set in a world reminiscent of Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is told from the alternating viewpoints of the Huntress who must hunt down a lost artifact upon a villainous island, and the Prince of Death tasked with killing her. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 14 May 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

29. The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
The Kingdom of Copper is the second book of the Daevabad trilogy, a beautiful YA historical fantasy set in the streets of 18th century Cairo.

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad – and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there. Add this spellbinding sequel on Goodreads and read an excerpt.

[ Expected release date: 22 January 2019 | Pre-order: Amazon or Book Depository — at 10% off!!! ]

30. Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Descendant of the Crane is Joan He’s debut YA fantasy novel that was pitched as a Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones.

Princess Hesina would rather sneak out of the palace via the secret tunnels her father showed her than face the responsibilities of the crown. That is, until the king is found dead in his favorite garden, mysteriously poisoned. Hesina’s world is teetering on calamity. Centuries after magic is all but eradicated by her people, neighboring kingdoms are mustering for war with an army of enslaved magicians under their control. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

31. Gumiho by Kat Cho
Kat Cho’s YA fantasy debut is set in modern-day Seoul and based on Korean mythology. A girl who must kill to survive falls in love with a boy after she rescues him from a goblin, changing the course of her immortal life. Learn more via Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

32. The Girl with Golden Feet by Erin Entrada Kelly
This Filipino author’s upcoming middle grade, fantasy debut is inspired by Filipino folklore and tells the story of Mari Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl who fights unavenged spirits, devious mermaids, hills made of horns, and a vicious bird-woman, all in a quest to conquer some of life’s good fortunes.

Considering that this is the only Filipino-inspired fantasy on this list and I am unapologetically biased when it comes to these things, I am loudly screaming this to you and to the void: Add this title on Goodreads immediately!

[ Expected release date: 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

33. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim
Written by a Filipino-Chinese author, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is described as: a heartwarming novel of magical realism in which an aspiring chef returns home to San Francisco following her estranged mother’s death and must master a series of enchanted recipes in order to revive her family’s old Chinatown restaurant.

I know that magical realism and fantasy aren’t one and the same, but what the hell! Add Roselle Lim’s debut on Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

34. The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
Pitched as Percy Jackson and the Olympians meets the work of Grace Lin, this debut middle grade tells the story of a 12-year-old girl wanting to find her place in a secret society of warriors. She embarks on a journey to fight her way through gods and demons in various Chinatowns, in order to find a secret island where her missing father might be. Add this book on Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

35. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
To provide for her family, 17-year-old Maia Tamarin disguises herself as a boy to compete for the position of imperial tailor. Her task to sew three magical gowns of the sun and moon and stars leads her to find adventure, romance, and danger in a Chinese-inspired fantasy set along a re-imagined Silk Road.

This YA fantasy novel was pitched as Project Runaway meets The Wrath and the Dawn. Check it out on Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: May 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

36. The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
Set in a city along the Silk Road that has become a refuge for those of all faiths, The Candle and the Flame is about a young woman with mysterious origins and two clans of powerful djinn who threaten to destroy her peace, and the unlikely alliances she’ll make to survive. Add this title on Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

37. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan
In a world inspired by Qing dynasty China, a warrior girl, Anlei, teams up with a young thief to save her village from shadow spirits. But, after diving in the Courts of Hell, a discovery challenges everything they think they know about who the real enemy is. Add this title on Goodreads.

[ Expected release date: 2019 | Pre-ordering not yet available ]

First things first: Did you get a kick out of the title’s rice/rise pun like I did? I MEAN. I can be pretty witty, too, okay. But I digress.

I tried to include as many titles as I could possibly find, but if I missed out on any books (whether already published or to be released this year or in 2019), I would really appreciate it if you’d let me know so that I can add to this list! We definitely need more Asian authors and Asian-inspired books to support and to throw our money (and love) at!

While it warms my heart to know that I was able to compile this many Asian fantasy novels (seriously, I didn’t think I’d find more than 15!), I genuinely hope for more Filipino-inspired fantasy stories that I can include the next time I try to write a post like this again. This Filipino girl needs her Filipino-inspired fantasies! (I was low-key tempted to use the phrase ‘Filipino female’ just to keep the alliteration going, but alas, I did not want to risk sounding like a misogynistic douche baguette. I cry.)

That’s enough rambling on my part. I’d like to listen (or rather, read) what you think! What have you heard about the books on this list? WHICH BOOK COVERS MADE YOU DROOL? Which books have effectively piqued your interest? Which ones are you most excited about? I’m actually thinking of making a similar post for either Asian contemporaries or Asian-inspired science fiction books – which do you think I should go for?

Finally, this post took numerous days of research and writing to put together. It definitely consumed a whole lot more time than I anticipated (yikes!). With that said, I would immensely appreciate it if you would support my work! You can easily do this by (1) sharing this post on social media platforms (see buttons at the bottom of this post!); (2) availing these titles through the affiliate links used on this post (which, I assure you, won’t affect your purchase/pre-order at all!); and (3) donating a cup of coffee to my ko-fi account. P.S. In doing so, you’ll be helping me raise enough funds to have my broken laptop repaired! And I will love you forever.

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First of her name. Queen of lists and spreadsheets. Protector of books. Breaker of norms. Iskolar ng bayan.

56 thoughts on “Books on the Rice: 2018-2019 Asian-inspired fantasy novels to drool over”

  1. Ahhhh so many exciting books! I’m so sad to say that many of these I hadn’t even heard of? They deserve so much more hype. I’ve only read the first Heroine Complex book (which I loved!! Can’t wait to read the others) and Timekeeper, but I’ve been meaning to read Chainbreaker for so long now. There are so many other books on this list that I need to read ASAP. Can someone send me all the books on my TBR please 😂


  2. I love that Asian- inspired stories are on the rise! About time! And some of these I SO want to try, like the Chupeco series and Shad of the Fox. That anthology looks awesome too, and a great way to try some new authors!


  3. Heroine Complex is one of my favorite books!!!! I’m so excited that it made your list!! (well the 3rd book in your series made the list but close enough!) I don’t know very many people that have read these books! I have 5 chapters left in Heroine’s Journey and I can’t wait to finish it! (I am buddy reading it and my friend got really sick so I waited for him otherwise I would have finished it forever ago)


  4. Fantastic list Shealea! I appreciate all the research that must have gone into this post.

    Off this list, The Heart Forger, Aruh Shah and the End of Time, Smoke in the Sun, and Wildcard are all on my TBR. Many of these books are new to me, so I will have to look into them! Thanks for the recs 🙂


  5. I adored the pun in your title. ❤ I recently bought The Poppy War online and can't wait to get started on it once it arrives. In addition, I pre-ordered Wildcard and can't wait till it arrives as well.


  6. One, that pun in the title was JUST TOO FREAKIN’ good. Secondly, I am definitely bookmarking this post, because there are so many books on here that I didn’t know about and now want to read! *echos of her sobbing TBR list crying in the corner as it grows ever larger ensues*

    Thank you for all the time you put into creating this post, because I know it took a lot of work. But I really enjoyed it!


  7. AH, thank you so much for this list! So often does Asian representation get cast aside (especially Middle-Eastern rep…which I think is still very, very little) and these books NEED more recognition. I’m especially excited to read The Flame in the Mist since I love Ahdieh’s work but I’m definitely going to check out a couple of these other books. Thanks again, Shealea!


  8. Great list! I’m absolutely loving this new wave of Asian fantasy. There are so many here that I’m looking forward to! I was lucky enough to get ARCs for a few of these, including Shadow of the Fox and Girls of Paper and Fire and I’m so excited for it!


  9. OMG I can’t deal with so much AWESOMENESS in one post. I was already looking forward to a lot of these books but you just kicked up the excitement meter to a 100.

    Though I do wish there were more Korean fantasies being written. I’m sure we’ll get more of them as the years go by, but right now, I’m tempted to just write one myself. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thanks, Kathy! It’s always great to know that I’m not alone in my excitement.

      I never fully realized how rare Korean fantasies were until I made this list and I was actively scouring the digital world for them! If you decide to go write one, you have my full support for sure! We definitely need more of ’em.


  10. This is a great list! I’m not sure if Kingdom of Copper and We Hunt The Flame belong here? Aren’t they Arabian/N. African-inspired? I’m pretty excited for them but just wanted to point this out because that’s space that could go to other Asian books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for bringing this up! I totally get where you’re coming from. It actually took me a while to decide on whether I should include these books or not. Both titles are Arabian-inspired, and geographically speaking, the Arabian peninsula is located in Southwest Asia. 😊


  11. I’ve seen several of the titles on here going around onTwitter and it just brings me so much joy that Asian authors and Asian-inspired stories are getting the recognition it deserves :’)

    I’ve read of Epic Crush (which I LOvEd sO muCh) and am currently reading Aru Shah. I started The Bone Witch like… a year or two ago? But I never got into it because I just didn’t have enough patience to go through such a slow start to a story? Maybe I’ll get back to it someday.

    “Which covers am I drooling for”? Seriously?? Why do you ask such difficult questions to me, Shealea. I can’t just pick one or twenty-five, you know. But though I’m drooling at all these beautiful Asian fantasy novels, I’m with you in that I also need my dose of Filipino-inspired fantasies. The last time I’ve seen a Filipino character in a story was this YA contemp where the MC has a Filipino bestfriend with a mom that cooked lumpia? Or was it turon.

    Like YO OUR MYTHS AND LEGENDS ARE RICH WITH GLORIOUS GLITTERS AND GORES? (Totally not biased here HAHA) It’d be nice to see more Filipino-inspired novels 😊 So yeah, please do hit me up if The Girl with Golden Feet has a pre-order!


  12. Fantastic post! I was already eagerly awaiting a few of these but watch me add the rest to my wish list asap. Thank you for spreading the word about these amazing stories ❤


  13. I loved this! I learned about so many new books!! I’ve already read some and I love them. My favorite on the list being Girls of Paper and Fire ❤️. I’ve already had the pleasure of reading Dragon Peral as well and while it is set inspection would definitely say it’s more fantasy and would be a great addition to this list.


  14. *awakens Mushu style* I LIVEEEEEEEEEEEE! I love, love, love this amazing post, Shealea! I missed so much because of uni and all of these books honestly sound amazing. Even some of those that are already out, how could I have missed those historical fictions??? Aghhh will remedy that immediately. Thank you so much for this. My TBRs overflowing again, but I legit have no regrets. ❤


  15. I love puns so I HAD to click and read your post! I admit that I haven’t read a lot of YA fantasy so this really excites me! The most common ones I see are inspired by Chinese and Japanese culture so it’s really exciting to see more Filipino inspired books!

    I’ve read a few books featuring a Filipino main character, although it’s not fantasy. One of my favorites is Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz, which is an own voices book about Filipinos and immigration in the US. What I love best about this book is the food, culture, and of course some of the scenes are set in my neighborhood here in SoCal. If you haven’t read this yet, Shelea, pick it up and read! 😊



    1. I loved your pun ok it was amazing keep up the rice puns <333
    3. Unfortunately, The Bird and the Blade was written by a white woman, but it's also got a 100% Asian cast and I found the representation to be solid? I'm not super well versed on Asian/Mongol, but as an Asian girl, I wasn't offended by anything. Like, it's not like there's super focused descriptions that exoticizes Asians etc., because it's kind of taken for granted that everyone is Asian (what I aspire all books to be like). (if you imagine them as white, pls leave.)
    4. UGHHH I RELATE. although i'm 100% mainland china east Asian by blood (which I didn't actually know until a year ago?), culturally i'm 50% Indonesian, 25% Taiwanese, and 25% mainland Chinese (such a weird blood vs. culture description which is why I just let white people think i'm Taiwanese and move on) BUT IT'S SO HARD TO FIND SEA+INDONESIAN REP ANYWHERE? like, The Bone Witch is SOOO awesome, but I also cry because it's fantasy and I want more real life SEA girls.
    5. dON'T CONFRONT ME LIKE THAT I immediately forget all book recs when confronted with questions like "what Asian fantasies did I miss?" SO JUST YOU WAIT I will bring recommendations when my brain starts working again

    this is such a good post I am recing this to everyone just wait it'll be shoved in all their faces until all these books are on everyone's tbrs


  17. Love this. Most of them are already in my TBR. Just frustrating that the Poppy War isn’t available here locally. It’s only thru special order in Fully Booked.

    I’m currently reading Aruh Shah and one of the characters is Indian-Filipino.


  18. I love this post! I’m definitely adding the majority of these to my to-read list. I’ve actually been meaning to read Markswoman and The Poppy War for ages. I ADORED The Heart Forger (and the Bone Witch too of course) and I can’t wait for the third book to be released. That series is just so epic.

    Empress of All Seasons is one I need to add to the priority list, because the synopsis sounds incredible. The same goes for Girls of Paper and Fire (I love that it has a TW in the synsopsis!)

    Thank you so much for sharing these, I’m looking forward to reading them!


  19. Thank you so, so much for taking the time to put such an awesome post with so many recommendations together ❤ I am so happy to see more diverse characters taking center stage in books, we need them more often ❤ There are so many books here I’m excited to read – I really want to read The Gilded Wolves, that one sounds soooo very cool. I’m also excited for Girls of Paper and Fire, Wildcard and Empress of All Seasons sounds amazing, too 😀


  20. Oh my goodness!!! So many new books and series to keep an eye on!!! Seeing Indian mythology/ fantasy books on this list made my heart so happy and full!!! Asian representation in general is making its presence known and I am so happy because of it. There are already a few books on my TBR from this list but now there are some new and interesting ones, too!!!

    My tbr is going to riot soon, it’s ever increasing and not getting any smaller. Oops!!


  21. Okay thanks for murdering my tbr, Shealea. .-. HAHAHA. The Chinese in me’s side-eyeing all those Chinese-inspired titles because I know I’ll be super critical of those. Sometimes I get scared to read Asian rep books bc I know I’ll freak out if the rep’s not good. D:


      1. One that immediately stood out to me was Markswoman! I honestly kind of miss post-apocalyptic stories and this one sounds like it could break the mold.


  22. Some of these are already on my TBR. I actually read A Thousand Beginnings and Endings a bit earlier than the rest, and it was sooooo goooood 😍😍😍 Rin Chupeco’s books and Julie Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox to read next. Have you read Gilded Wolves? I’m waiting for it to come out too.

    Thanks for your post. This is a great list! Plus you made me lol with all your rice comments. 😅😅😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been trying to look for a copy of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings in local bookstores, but no luck!

      I’m planning to reread TBW and THF before reading The Shadowglass. But anyway. The Bone Witch takes an amount of patience because it’s very slow and very character-driven, but the world-building is beautiful and the writing is so rich! I hope you enjoy it enough to read the sequel, which is more plot-driven. (I’m low-key envious that you already have a copy of Shadow of the Fox, though! I’ve been trying so hard to get a copy, but aaaaaah, publishers hate me. HAHA.)

      I also haven’t read Glided Wolves yet! But I’m super, super excited about it.

      P.S. Thanks for appreciating this post! Yes, rice is a staple to any dish, imo. Can’t get enough of it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the heads up re: TBW. I’m sure I wouldn’t mind the slow pace as long as I get a formed picture of the world. I caved and bought it earlier at NBS. It was clearly a sign! Haha!
        My request for Gilded Wolves has been sitting on NetGalley almost a month now. Haha! It’s one of my most anticipated 2019 reads.
        And yes, rice is life! Anyone who says otherwise either hasn’t had a taste of it or is on a diet and they’re denying themselves. LOL! 😉


      1. I recently received The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen in a Page Habit Box, and I recently picked up Markswoman by Rati Mehrota. But I now have added to my need to get list:

        Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
        A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
        Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jea
        Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
        Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
        Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

        I have always liked Asian culture so finding more books with this background makes me so happy.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is awesome! Some of the titles you mentioned are highly anticipated reads of mine, too! (Especially Shadow of the Fox and Empress of All Seasons.)

          And I get what you mean! Asian culture is so rich, diverse, and practically bursting with untold stories just waiting to be written! Like I said in the post, I’m very tempted to compile a list of Asian contemporaries and/or Asian-inspired science fiction, too.

          Hope you enjoy both The Bird and the Blade and Markswoman! They honestly sound fantastic.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I hope the list is of some help to you.

      I did come across Dragon Pearl (and A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna), but I didn’t include either of them on the list because their synopsis seemed more sci-fi than fantasy. But I’ll definitely look into it!

      Have you read and reviewed it? I’d love to read your thoughts!


  23. Hey, you should check out A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe. Not a really known author,
    But she’s a nice person to chat with and A Mortal Song is a Book I really liked =] and it’s set in Asia and fantasy!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, thanks for commenting and for the recommendation! I actually added her book to my TBR a few days ago while I was searching for 2018-2019 fantasy releases.

      Have you maybe written a review? I’d love to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

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